Today is Harley’s original due date. It’s also a special kind of anniversary, the anniversary of when she finally started latching and stopped needing to be bottle fed expressed milk. So, while I was like a cow before this date, today marks a year with Harley on the boob, a year of breastfeeding. It’s been such a journey so far, and I have so many feelings about it all. While most of them are good, there is some negative stuff mixed in, too.
All the research says that breast is best. Before even talking about the emotional stuff, simply said breast milk is the best for a baby. It’s got all the nutrients she needs, lets her try all sorts of new flavors depending on what I eat, and helps with immunity and allergies. Plus, it’s free. I had no doubt that I wanted to nurse Harley, no doubt that she would be on the boob for a while. But how long did I think I would nurse? Probably about a year. Now that she’s a year on the boob and almost 14 months old, I’m reassessing the age, but not as much as I would have thought a few months ago.
You see, nursing has been phenomenal for bonding. Harley and I are so close, she is so attached to me and it’s lovely in many ways. I love that I can comfort her no matter what, no matter where we are together. The boob is always with me, doesn’t need preparation time and is a surefire way to fix most of her issues. She looks to me for comfort in general, falling asleep in my arms and generally just making me the loving safe one while her daddy is the adventurous fun one.
We are doing baby led weaning, and she is eating more every day, but her main source of nutrition is still the boob. She doesn’t seem to eat that much – a few mouthfuls and she’s pretty much done. I’m trying to get her to eat more throughout the day, offering her various things to try as snacks and meals. It’s nice not to have to worry too much about it, though. I know the boob is still giving her pretty much everything she could need, and those mouthfuls of real food are enough.
I have really loved the breastfeeding journey. We have been fairly lucky. In those early days, I had to pump and she wouldn’t latch and I felt terrible. I even got a blocked duct, which was so, SO painful. But since then, it’s pretty much been easy. I give her boob and life moves on. A few months ago, I was actually thinking that I might end up nursing her until she is two years old or even older. But lately I’m wondering just how smart that will be for us.
Don’t be me wrong, I’m not about to push her off the boob any time soon. I really want her to still be nursing when we move to the States; I think it will be an excellent source of stability and comfort when her whole world changes, plus it might help on the flights if she can nurse during takeoff and landing to alleviate some of the pressure.
That said, I do see that we both rely on it a lot. I wonder if longterm nursing does make the separation anxiety harder for her. It also leads to confusion for me – is she upset because she wants the boob, or because she just wants her mommy? Has breastfeeding her this consistently for so long made it harder for her to bond with other people? Or does that even matter at this age – she is still so young, it’s totally natural for her to be closest with her parents.
Whether she ends up weaning in the next few months, or only a year or so from now, I am so incredibly proud. I have given Harley a great start at life. She has never been sick (knock on wood), she has gained weight nicely, hit her milestones and all that other good stuff. She is a strong, smart, confident, funny, beautiful little munchkin. I have nourished her for a year directly from my own body, and it has made me so much more impressed with the power of my body. Sure, I’m a bit sad when I see how my body has changed since having a kid, but I’m also completely in awe of what it has been able to do. I am so proud of myself for sticking with breastfeeding for this long, for believing in myself and what I know has been right for Harley and me.